At least 16 people died and 50 others were wounded Saturday in a bomb attack at a busy outdoor market in the western Pakistani city of Quetta, a police spokesperson told Efe.

The blast in the capital of the strife-torn province of Baluchistan was followed by an exchange of gunfire, a police official in Quetta said by phone.

The spokesman said an hour after the attack that authorities still have not determined a motive but that it may have been sectarian in nature because the residential area where the bomb detonated is majority Shiite.

The daily Express Tribune said 115 people were wounded, while officials cited by the Dawn newspaper said they fear the number of fatalities may rise because several victims are in critical condition.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf denounced the attack in a statement, saying that "terrorists will not break the will of the Pakistani people through such despicable actions."

A report early this year by a Pakistani-based think tank said sectarian strife, especially violence targeting the Shiite minority in Baluchistan, rose substantially in 2012.

Quetta suffered one of the bloodiest days in the city's history on Jan. 10, when three attacks killed more than 100 people, 90 of whom died in a double bombing of a snooker club in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood. EFE